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Mark 15: 16-21 The Mocking of Jesus by The Roman Soldiers

by Dr. D ~ March 11th, 2007

Vs.16-20 The Roman soldiers came and led Jesus away to the Army headquarters in the Palace. Notice it says that the whole battalion was called in. Obviously they were concerned about any possible backlash from the followers of Jesus.

Several soldiers were probably guarding Jesus when he was being judged by Pilate. They heard the claim that he was supposed to be some kind of ‘King of the Jews’ and told the rest of their company about Jesus. The Roman soldiers stationed in Judea generally despised the Jews because they acted so uppity and usually treated them as ‘untouchables’. Here was their chance to have some fun with one of these royal pains.

From a Jewish perspective, the Romans were occupiers and oppressors. Also, the more religious, like the Pharisees did not want to have anything to do with ‘Gentiles’ in general because they considered them to be ‘unclean’.

A purple robe was a sign of wealth and royalty. Purple cloth was difficult and expensive to produce in the ancient world. It could well have been one of Pilate’s old robes that he had thrown away. It is hard to imagine that they would have put a robe like that in good condition on Jesus. Notice the games that the real King of the universe had to endure: mock homage and salutes, mixed with spitting and striking–a real scene of revelry.

Finally they take the robe away and put his own clothes back on him and then lead him away to be crucified.

Vs. 21 It was customary for condemned man to carry his own cross through the streets of Jerusalem on out to the hill outside the city gates where the prisoners were executed–called Golgotha. Along the way Jesus was no longer able to carry his own cross, so the soldiers grabbed a passerby and forced him to carry it for Jesus.

Mark identifies the cross bearer as Simon of Cyrene. Cyrene was an important city in what is today Libya, and had a large Jewish community at the time. So Simon could have been a Jewish pilgrim visiting in Jerusalem for the Passover. It is also possible that he lived in Jerusalem but was known as Simon of Cyrene because he originally came from there. This could be the case, since Mark and his readers were acquainted with his two sons Alexander and Rufus who obviously were part of the Christian community when the gospel was written.

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